In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation's first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag, the Indians in attendance, also played a lead role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Virginia in 1619. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 150 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
- 242 million: the number of turkeys forecasted to be raised in the U.S. in 2013.
- 768 million pounds: The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2012.
- 2.6 billion punds: The total weight of sweet potatoes produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2012.
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